No prescient source can put a value on your home -- after all, many reputable sources ignored the Cassandras of the housing bubble. So the best way to get a reasonably estimate of your home's value before putting it on the market, getting home-equity lines of credit or assessing your financial situation may be to get a GREAT CMA REPORT.
In the end, you will not have achieved your home's value to the nearest penny, but here are steps to get a reasonable idea of your home's value.
1. Ask a Real-Estate Agent -- or Agents
It is recommended get an accurate Competitive Market Analysis aka CMA and then evaluate with your Naples Real Estate Expert so they can estimate the value of your home before putting it on the market.
The CMA will provide a range of data that needs to be interpreted properly or you will price your property incorrectly. You do not need to be told an incorrectly priced home will scare buyers away or attract the right buyer for an immediate sale.
2. Use an Independent Appraiser
Keep in mind that an appraisal is required for the loan, so if your buyers will be getting a loan you will have to price your home at a value the home will appraise for.
3. Look at Comparables
Heading to open houses in your neighborhood gives you an idea not just of price per square foot, but of the overall condition of the house.
Houses may be in various states of disrepair, and the best way to find out how your home stacks up is to see exactly what's being sold.
4. Search Online
County Web sites may be surprisingly specific, providing information about the price, history, square footage and make-up of a house, and links to comparable houses sold in the area.
As long as you make sure you're making an apples-to-apples comparison, they're a good resource.
But in a quickly changing market, fewer home sales can mean fewer examples of comparable homes.
5. Investigate Changes in Area Prices
The National Association of Realtors, the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight and the Case-Shiller index all track home price. They paint home-price changes with a broad brush, taking into account home price changes in large areas, but you can get a rough idea of market housing price changes in your area.
Alternatively, you can get more local data with your area multiple listing service. But fewer home sales in an area means fewer listings, so their average home prices may change significantly with the sale of one especially expensive home.
6. See What the Market Thinks
A house worth $500,000 today may not be worth $500,000 tomorrow. In fact, many people are betting that prices will change, which may mean that your house will fluctuate in price.
If you live in one of 10 major markets tracked by the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price indices, you can look at what future contracts are selling at to see whether investors are feeling bearish or bullish about homes in your area. The market should be viewed with a grain of salt, however --it's new and relatively small.
Another option is to see how the people insuring your mortgage feel about your market. Mortgage Guaranty Insurance Corporation has a list of "restricted markets" with stricter underwriting standards.
By now you probably have a scatter plot of estimated house price points. Hopefully, they'll be concentrated around one number, and that'll be a reasonably good guess.
But when choosing among the estimates to put a price tag on your home, don't get too greedy.
The same holds equally true when you're looking for a home equity loan or assessing your financial situation. Underestimating the value of your home will leave you with excess equity you can tap into at some later date; overestimating it can leave you financially stretched.